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Taken for Granted: A Second Look at Landscapes

[Alfred Vickers] 

Two years ago, I made the mistake of basing an art history essay on a very wrong assumption. The ghastly mistake? “Landscape art only serves the purpose of being aesthetically pleasing.” A year and a half later, I would turn this mistake into a project that has resulted in the current exhibition together with a companion catalog of landscape paintings from the Wright Museum of Art.

Landscapes are not just pretty pictures. They are not, as I had once assumed, made solely to look beautiful. The archetypal landscape image (hills, trees, rivers, and the like) seemed so uninteresting that I did not think that they could have any other function. Such an assumption, however, is like thinking that all novels are written to be entertaining. Can a novel not also be informative, or carry deep meaning? And does a novel need to be entertaining at all to still be a novel? Likewise, does a landscape need to be pretty to still be a landscape? The works in this exhibit each exemplify different possible meanings and explore different artistic motives for choosing the landscape as the subject.

My aim for this exhibit is to show you some examples of landscapes with ulterior motives so that you might cease to take this genre for granted.

Kelly Hayes, ‘12